Contributed by Lori and Bob Malkin in Seven Oaks Living Magazine
After the tragic loss of Jeffrey “JJ” Johns in 2009, the Johns/Malkin family made it their mission to carry on Jeff’s legacy, whose organs helped save five individuals and heal up to 50 lives through eye and tissue donations.
It has become our passion to inspire and educate the community. Not being an actual registered donor himself, Jeff was fortunate enough to have two loved ones that said yes on his behalf. It was this very misconception that sparked the idea to create JJ’s Legacy, a nonprofit organization that continues to increase donor registration, to honor and shed light on donor families and recipients of Kern County.
Without the incredible and continued support over the past eight years, JJ’s Legacy could not have accomplished all that it has in terms of bringing our vision to life – saving lives, helping families and strengthening our community.
What began several years ago as a small memorial gala and golf tournament at Seven Oaks Country Club, where family and friends gathered, has amounted too much more. This annual event gathers around 550 attendees, 70 volunteers and has raised thousands of dollars for scholarships and grants. The money raised helps pay medical bills and aid in prescription costs to those waiting for the lifesaving transplants or to the recipients.
Throughout this past year, JJ’s Legacy has moved forward with its vision of educating, inspiring, increasing more donor registration and bringing even more awareness to the community through various new projects and programs.
A prime example is the partnership with Kern Medical, which transformed a space outside of the Intensive Care Unit into a peaceful room for patients and donor families. JJ’s Legacy Comfort Room opened in December 2016, and is a serene, private place for patients or their loved ones to have some quiet time to think. The Adventist Health Comfort Room will open later this fall, and a future Comfort Room is planned for at Dignity Health Memorial and Mercy Hospitals in 2018.
To educate first time drivers about the importance of registering to become an organ, eye and tissue donor, JJ’s Legacy launched Got the Dot Leadership Program earlier this year. This interactive six-week program provided 42 high school students from Centennial High School’s Interact Club leadership skills to inspire donor registration through the creation of an informational video. To celebrate the success of this program, JJ’s Legacy presented scholarships to the first and second place recipients of the video project.
Another fun and successful fundraiser that JJ’s Legacy launched last year and is excited to welcome back is the second annual Grillin’ & Brewin’ event. This year’s event is from 5:30-10 p.m. on Nov. 9 at Temblor Brewing Co. Advance tickets are only $45 and includes dinner and two beer/wine tickets.
Feast on delicious, mouth-watering barbecue prepared by an award-winning Kansas City BBQ Society (KCBS) champion, and be prepared to laugh, sing and dance to music by the entertaining Kelly Twins Dueling Pianos.
The event is a great opportunity to meet and greet old friends and new alike while supporting a great cause! The funds raised will enable JJ’s Legacy to continue to educate our community… and provide compassionate support to our local donor and recipient families here in Kern County. We hope to see you there!
Do you have a pink dot on your driver’s license? If not, you can sign up that evening. If you are interested in learning more about JJ’s Legacy, becoming a registered donor or volunteer, or attending this upcoming fundraiser, visit jjslegacy.org.